Closed: June 16th, 2016 – Fire
The Akash, hoped to re-open mid-August 2016, alas not.
If one is in Helensburgh this is the place to go (Hector – April 2010)
The Akash re-opened on December 20, 2012 after a six month closure. Mr. Mohammed Rashid has replaced Mr. Ali as Proprietor. With a brand New Menu featuring Methi Gosht Karahi, things may be very different.
Much of what is written below is based on the fond memories of much Curry consumed on these premises since 1981. Extracts from the New Menu were captured on the evening of the re-opening. Time was then taken to re-assess the quality of Curry served. Read on, The Akash reigns supreme in Helensburgh.
1000 visits and counting…
Once in a land and time there was..
The Akash (45 Sinclair St, Helensburgh, G84 8TG) is without doubt the venue where Hector has eaten a significant percentage of the Curry he has consumed in his lifetime. As a resident of Helensburgh for some ten years and employed there for more than thirty years, this will always remain a Special Venue for Hector.
When Hector moved to Helensburgh in 1981, one of the first questions asked was – Where does one have a Curry?’ – The Sangam – was the reply. This was in fact the first of a series of Indian Restaurants occupying the upstairs premises in which the Akash now finds itself. Hector went to The Sangam once.
On leaving Helensburgh Central Station one day, Hector spotted another Indian Restaurant to the east along East Princes St at the corner of Maitland St: The Akash! I went alone, this was more like the Full Bhuna. (The building was eventually demolished and stands as a gap site to this day.)
Friends were invited down from Glasgow, Neil of many current recommendations was part of the group; we shared positive thoughts about the Akash, this was it. The Akash became a home from home over the next few years. Late weekend nights spent with the taxi drivers, even into the small hours of xmas, became the norm.
Dinnis the head waiter became a Legend. He is now immortal. Dinnis even came up to my flat for a Curry in the summer of 1988. He pronounced my Curry to be good, and my Rice was indeed terrible (back then).
The nights of Bombay Duck as a starter: ‘It is far too early for Bombay Duck’ Dinnis told Noddy and I one evening. Why there was a scheduled time for Bombay Duck we never knew. Why the EU banned its import to the UK also remains a mystery. Hector wants Bombay Duck!
The Shish Mahal (Gibson St/Park Rd, Glasgow) may claim that the Chicken Tikka Masala was invented on their premises. Hector knows for definite that it was he who brought the concept to Helensburgh. My brief affair with Tikka Lamb resulted in me ordering something that was not on the menu. ‘I had it in Glasgow, why can I not have it here?’ And so the ‘Hector Special’ (sic) was born. I am assured that people did come in and ask for the meal using this moniker. When the menu next went to press so the new wave was included.
Lamb Rogan Josh
It was Neil who suggested I try this now very common dish back in the early 1980s. Hector had been eating a Lamb and Mushroom Bhuna Vindaloo for many, many years. Just how much Rogan Josh has been eaten over the years is incalculable. Needless to say the Akash Rogan Josh was always excellent.
Hector rarely orders a Starter, except to share. The Akash was the exception.
Long before the Chicken Chat Starter became the standard that it is today (on-the-bone), the Akash served a chopped Chicken dish with cooked Onion and raw Cucumber in a Minimal Masala. They managed to maintain the unique style and quality of this Dish over the years and it became a must on every visit. Two portions of the Akash Chicken Chat could have formed the only Chicken Curry that Hector would ever have considered ordering. Now we have the Mix Combo, a generous portion of Chicken Tikka, Lamb Tikka and Seekh Kebab. Enough to share, or go for it…
About a decade ago, perhaps longer, around the time of the move to the current premises the Akash went through a purple patch. The magic of the 1980s was recaptured. The Chef then moved on to open the Flamingo Take-away doors along from the original Akash premises and now part of No. 28.
Hector still visits the Akash half a dozen times a year. There was the problem that I came to know the taste of every dish, well I thought I did. Despite the expansion of the menu over the years to include the Tikka and Balti fascinations, the taste of the meals was rooted back in the 1980s. This was no bad thing. Mr Ali, and subsequently his son Shuel, maintained a high standard of Curry.
In the middle of 2011 a new Akash experience was discovered. Apparently the Lamb Makhini with Spinach had been on the menu for some time, Hector had just not spotted the potential. Alas, this is a dish not on the New Menu.
The New Proprietors are keen to please and listen to what the customer desires; well they impressed Hector by producing a version of Methi Karahi Gosht with the expected texture as a gratis replacement for the first very average attempt. Hopefully other long standing customers will enquire about the Akash Standard Dishes not currently on the New Menu. What made this venue Hector’s most visited Curry House on The Planet deserves recognition. It would prove a travesty for a New-co to have to start in the Third Division.
Visit #5 to The New-co suggests they may well have cracked the Methi Gosht Karahi. Indeed news of this dish has spread around the town. People now come in and ask for – The Hector Special #1.
Wednesday and Thursday
Not a Buffet, but better!
On Wednesday and Thursday Evenings One can order Al la Carte anything the heart desires for a Flat Fee of £15.00. Drinks of course are on top of this modest fee. Here is an Opperchancity to try all the Starters that are read and never sampled. Or even risk a Main Dish that may be untried without the fear of disappointment.
Having become a Regular at the New-co a new Evening Format has evolved, The Desi Night. By contacting Ashgar or Rashid in advance they will prepare any Dish you can describe. Now how many Restaurants are there which give the Customer exactly what they seek? (Hint – they tend to be Recommended by Hector and visited often!)
In the 2014 Scottish Curry Awards, the Akash (New-co) won best in the SW Scotland Category. The Akash remains – The Helensburgh Curry House.
On Visit #17 at the end of November 2014, the Hector Special #2 was perfected: Lamb Chops Methi Achari. Six days later this was served as straight Lamb on-the-bone and is now officially The Hector Special #3.
This dish is as good as any Curry served in The Best of Curry Houses.
The Akash Fire – June 16th, 2016
A gas leak was reportedly resposnsible for the fire which would appear to have destroyed the interior of the Akash.